When Carl Barât was playing in the Libertines with Pete Doeherty, many believed that their success was due in large part to the talent that Pete brought to the table. After watching Carl and former Libertines, drummer Gary Powell, along with Anthony Rossomando (Doherty’s replacement) it’s obvious Carl is as much, if not more artistically responsible for the Lib’s success. Sure Pete’s image, drug induced antics and punk rock attitude only added to their rock ‘n’ roll sex appeal, making the band even more unmistakable. But it’s now apparent that Carl’s songwriting ability and passion were the elements that anchored the band, as evidenced by the Pretty Things set at Schuba’s in Chicago last Friday night.
In a space the size of a two-car garage with the architectural aesthetic of a small southern Baptist church, Dirty Pretty Things gave the sardine packed Chi-Town town crowd a healthy dose of drunken English Rock clichés whilst maintaining a fresh and spirited swagger.
San Francisco’s Scissors For Lefty were up first. A few joints inspired some head nodding during their short set, but overall, their brand of dance rock failed to resonate with the crowd. Maybe their sound was a little too run-of-the-mill, or the kids were just ancy for some British dance punk.
After an unnecessarily long break between the bands, Dirty Pretty Things stormed the stage with a passionate assault. Armed with a makeshift sling using the Union Jack Flag (Carl broke his arm in a mysterious Thai biking accident, so Josh from the Paddingtons has been playing the axe in his place the past few weeks), Carl and the boys fired into “Deadwood,” and it was on.
The crowd was raucous from the get go. A small but intense group of pogo happy kids (half of them Irish boys living in the city for the summer) dominated the front. The show stopped to take a few breaths with tracks like “Wandering,” and the Clash-like reggae flavored ”Gentry Cove.” Fittingly, the band encored with a Libertine’s classic, “I Get Along,” and the crowd burst into a mad frenzy.
The future should be very bright for these British gents. They are continuing on the path they forged with the Lib’s, but without all of the off-stage distractions and drama.
Photos by Matthew Coron